For six seasons, Nev Schulman and Max Joseph have ventured all around the country to track down online daters and bring them face-to-face with their partners, while exposing their fake personas — but now, they’re bringing Catfish: The TV Show home.
For the first time since the documentary that shot them to stardom, the hosts will involve their own personal lives in the upcoming season 7 of the hit MTV reality series by taking their investigations back to Los Angeles, where audiences will meet Joseph’s wife Priscila, as well as Schulman’s wife Laura Perlongo and the couple’s 1-year-old daughter Cleo.
PEOPLE caught up with Schulman and Joseph to discuss the new season, what 100 episodes of Catfish means to them and why, in today’s social and political climate, they’re more committed to seeking the truth than ever.
“This season is particularly new and different because my life, specifically, has changed a lot,” says Schulman, 33, who tied the knot with Perlongo in July. “Now I’m married, and I have a daughter, and we’re not trying to pretend that that’s not going on, so we’ve made some changes to the show. We’re spending more time in Los Angeles, so for half of the season, rather than us flying to meet people where they are, we’re actually bringing people to Los Angeles so I can be home and spend time with my family.”
“We’re inviting our wives now — who have kind of silently been our confidantes and advisors throughout these last five years — to actually be on the show and give their perspective and advice and insight as a part of each episode,” he explains. “Laura is really excited about it. She’s a fan of the show and has been since we met, and has a lot to say, always, about everything.”
Joseph, 35, says his wife will bring a “very different perspective” to the show.
“Priscila is from Brazil, and she lived in Europe for five years, which is where we met — at a bar, the good old-fashioned way,” he says. “Neither one of us had ever really dated online, and her perspective involves lot of observations about America — the differences between America and other places, and trends and patterns of the way that people behave here, which is so refreshing for me when I talk to her, because it forces me to see things through new eyes.”
But of course, the last five years have brought the hosts to parts of the country they probably never would have laid eyes on — over 200 cities and small towns across the United States.
“One hundred episodes means a lot of flights and it means a lot of Hilton Garden Inns,” Joseph says. “It means a lot of emotional ups and downs and being in people’s living rooms and on weird couches and listening to people’s stories and kind of embedding ourselves in the lives of many different Americans.”
“We’re mostly interacting with people in their late teens, early to mid-20s,” he adds. “But along the way, we’re seeing everything in between, and it’s been a real eye-opener, socially and politically. It’s definitely affected me irreversibly.”
Schulman calls his journey with Joseph “a sort of campaign of compassion.”
“It goes beyond the sort of specificity of helping someone find out the truth about the person they’re talking to, but broadly, what we’ve been doing is really absorbing and observing youth culture in America,” he says. “We’re looking right down the barrel of the reality that young people feel more comfortable pursuing friendships and relationships online than they do in person, that people are becoming less and less comfortable with physical interaction. Face-to-face intimacy has become more difficult for people.”
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And both hosts are hopeful that this season will be the best yet.
“In a world filled with sadness and lies and bullying, much of which is perpetrated by our president, we are happy to continue to offer a show that seeks to find the truth, to encourage authenticity and to support objectivity, compassion and caring,” says Joseph.
“So even if you think you’ve seen every episode or whatever, we think people could — and should — keep watching this show,” he adds. “Because we’re doing our part to fight back against the unfortunate trend of negativity and bulls— that seems to be infesting our lives.”
Season 7 of Catfish: The TV Show premieres Jan. 3 on MTV.